The Six-Pack vs. the Three-Pack: The Importance of Hooping Both Directions

December 15, 2011 Caroleeena HoopingUncategorized


Most of us have a favorite direction for spinning our hoop while hooping. To determine your dominant direction, look down at the hoop as it rotates across your belly. When it is full and open in front of you, notice which way it is heading. If you were a clock and this place in front of you was midnight, would your hoop be heading for 11 or for 1? For most folks, the answer is 11 or counter clock-wise (CCW) though some people prefer clock-wise (CW) or 1. From what I can tell, there isn’t much correlation between right-handedness and left-handedness or which side of the equator you’re on. Our preferences seemed to be based on something else, probably something to do with the way our brains are wired or perhaps the fact that we live in a spiral universe that also spirals CCW. Who knows? But all of us have a dominant direction, one that feels more comfortable and easier to utilize. Yet it is important to hoop in BOTH directions!

Hooping in both your dominant and your non-dominant direction is essential to your skills development and important for your overall health. If you’re only hooping one direction, you are only developing one side of your abdominals and one side of your back muscles. You are continually wrenching your spine in one direction over and over and over, which can lead to chiropractic problems, irritated nerves and greater soreness. When I first started hooping regularly, I also had a recurrence of a back issue, an old injury from a car accident a decade or so before. It hurt so bad I could hardly move. I called the chiropractor to make an appointment and was told they could see me in three days. Gah! Three days!?! I was hurting! Now a normal person would not have even tried to hoop but a hoop-obsessed person? Well, that’s a different matter. So I kept at it, even though my back hurt, until it hurt so bad I couldn’t anymore. Frustrated I thought, “Well maybe if I try hooping in the other direction… Maybe I can manage that way…” It was hard at first. I could hardly get any rotations at all. But in no time, it was staying up for 10 circles, for a minute, for two minutes … and it was about at this two minute mark that my whole spine went “pop-pop-pop-pop-pop!” I completely readjusted my spine! I had been hooping in my dominate direction so long that I basically torqued it. And hooping in my non-dominant direction fixed it! I cancelled my doctor’s appointment and I have never been back. That was five years ago.

Hooping in both directions not only develops both sides of your abdominals (and who wants a three pack, am I right?) and both sides of your back muscles, it supports your spine, increases your balance, helps you find your Center, allows you to move freely in all directions and to learn new movements faster as it re-wires the neural pathways in your brain, effectively making you smarter. It enhances your ability to do every pattern-related thing in your life, including but not limited to music, dancing, drumming, mathematics, planning and organizing.

Hooping in both directions helps you find your Center, the core from which all your movement flows. We humans are interesting creatures. If you split us down the middle from head to toe, we look basically the same on the right side as on the left — one lung, one kidney, one arm, one leg, one eye, one ear, half a heart, half a brain, etc. We are balanced. Our center is at that split down the middle vertically, between the eyes, and we also have a horizontal center, which falls somewhere around our belly button. This is the core from which all movement flows. Once we find and explore this place, we’ll find it easier to lift with either arm, step out with either leg, and stall back and forth from CW to CCW effortlessly. Our dance will be more graceful and a new world of possibilities opens up to us. And the sooner we start learning our non-dominant direction, the easier it will be to learn.

Every movement stems from this center place. The sooner we start accumulating rotations and developing muscle memory from this core, spinning out in both directions equally, the sooner we will be learn everything else and the deeper our understandings will be. We will have understandings of body mechanics that are beyond my (or anyone’s) ability to explain. They are yours to discover. Spinning both directions is one of our paths to self-discovery.

As we progess, we’ll find that we no longer have a dominant direction. We can move in both directions with equal ease and grace. It might seem impossible on first blush but it is very possible.

If you have been defaulting to one direction that you find easier, I challenge you to change that today. I encourage you to test your boundaries and open up your hoop practice in ways that will amaze you. You have some lost time to make up for — and by that, I don’t mean the time you’ve already been hooping. I mean all the years of your life that you have defaulted to your right side (yes, even you left handed people) to crank your car, use scissors, open the fridge, close the door, flush the toilet, move your computer mouse, brush your hair, brush your teeth and so on and so on and so on… So here’s a great way to start. Select a song you really like and spend that entire song hooping in your non-dominant direction. When the hoop drops, simply pick it up and keep going. Do this every day for a week. Choose a short song if that helps. Mine was a bluegrass version of Paperback Writer, a Beatles song reworked by the Charles River Valley Boys. The song lasted 2:20. I still remember it. It seemed so long at first but it wasn’t long before I was hooping to the entire song without dropping the hoop once. Now that seems like nothing. For many moves, I no longer have a dominant direction. (If someone asks which way I’m going, I sometimes find myself thinking, “Now which way am I going again?”)

If you apply yourself, this is your future. You can do it. You can do anything you make up your mind to do but you must make a plan and you must practice … even though it can be frustrating. It may feel awkward at first, I won’t lie to you, but that can only pass AFTER you put in the rotations to move through it. The trick is to learn this mantra: “Darn. Let me try that again. Darn. Let me try that again…” As long as you can keep saying that, and keep doing that, you can learn anything. “Darn. Let me try that again…”

One final benefit – whenever we do a thing we think we cannot do, we open up glorious new possibilities for ourselves. We become braver and we live more fully. We grow and blossom. So give it a shot. Turn your face to the sun and grow!

5 Responses to “The Six-Pack vs. the Three-Pack: The Importance of Hooping Both Directions”

  • bill says:

    GOOD JOB! What a lot of people does not realize that no matter how old you are you need to exercise your body somewhat. I know some cannot but do what you can do while you can do it otherwise –one day you will not be able to do anything, I speak from experience, I have an acute sciatica nerve problem but I keep on going and if I don’t—i will not be able to.

  • miriam says:

    Whauw!
    Are you following feldenkrais lessons?

  • Tiffany says:

    Great article and wonderful advice for us all! On that note, it’s off to spiral out CW! 🙂

  • Alexia says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I just had an oh now I see moment:) …been wondering why my back was sore….silly me. Thanks again, I enjoy reading your articles. Found your site by way of YouTube videos, great tutorials too!

    • Caroleeena says:

      Hey girl! That makes me happy. It was a real “A-Ha!” moment for me too. It changed everything My balance is so much better now! Finding my center, not just side to side but up and down? Yeah, that changed everything.

      It’s nice to connect with you here. Hugs and love, Caroleeena


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